Dear Goofy

I have been stewing on this whole Miley Cyrus “chinky-eyes” photo thing all last week. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is:

Apparently, the photo of Miley and her friends “goofing” around making funny faces (i.e. making fun of slanty-eyed Asians [including the one sitting next to her]) leaked out last week. It didn’t surprise me that such a photo existed but it did make me sad. And then it made me angry after Miley came out with her weak-ass apology.

It came to a head for me yesterday at a small gathering of Asian American friends around some Vietnamese spring rolls. We agreed (in very loud angry tones) that something needed to be done about this, but my one friend insisted that going after a 16-year-old white girl would just make the Asian American community look hyper-sensitive and mean. My solution was that we need to start a letter-writing campaign to Disney. We need to let them know that we are effected by this whole thing. The only real way to effect change is to go directly to the people in charge.

Below I have pasted my letter to the two executive producers and the head of Disney Channel Worldwide. Below that I have addresses to which you can send letters as well. The more actual mail they recieve, the more likely they are to do something about it. Do not start an email campaign or a facebook group to protest Hannah Montana — that stuff will just disappear into the cyber-ether.  Actual viewer outrage in the form of a US postal delivery is a highly effective tool. For them to know you took the time to actually write, stamp and send a letter to their offices is a very big deal. If you are as outraged as I am about Miley’s insensitivity and her lack of a proper apology, you will take the time to write your own letter.

On a side note, I feel like this Asian kid in the picture completely captures what the experience of growing up Asian in America is all about. Halfway in on the joke, halfway a butt of the joke — the blind-sided “I-don’t-know-how-to-react-to-this-racist-bullshit” look on his face sums up so many awful moments in my own life.Does anyone know who this kid is?

My letter:

Dear Michael Poryes and Steven Peterman,

I am writing in response to the recent controversy with the Miley Cyrus “slanty-eyed” photograph. As an industry professional, a concerned parent and an Asian American, this incident has struck me deeply. I am very disappointed in the lack of response by the Disney Corporation.

Miley Cyrus is a sixteen-year-old girl from whom I would expect immature and irresponsible behavior. But as a company that prides itself on diversity, I would hope that as a responsible parent would to a child that knows no better, you would take measures to explain how hurtful and disrespectful her actions were.
As an Asian American who was born and raised in this country, I have had to endure similar humiliations throughout my youth. When I saw the aforementioned photo, it conjured up memories of schoolyard teasing that cast  me as an outsider simply because of my race. Perhaps naively, I had thought we, as a country, had grown past this kind of outright racist taunting. For Disney to allow this incident to go unaddressed confirms that not only have we NOT evolved as a society but that those with the power to do something about it deem such actions as acceptable.

I am a card-carrying member of the DGA and WGA and have made two feature films that deal head on with representations of Asian Americans. While I don’t think anyone can claim to be an expert in this area, I come pretty darn close. I have witnessed my own struggle and the struggles of fellow talented Asian Americans in the film industry. When incidents like this occur, it chips away at my hopes that  Asian Americans will one day be accepted in mainstream culture. It validifies that Asians will always be seen as foreign and in addition, easily mocked without fear of repercussions. Would this incident have been dealt with as much silence had the photo been of Ms. Cyrus in blackface eating watermelon in the guise as “goofing around?”

I was fortunate enough to take part in the ABC New Talent Directing Fellowship in 2006-07. During that time, I shadowed Roger Christiansen on episode 116 of Hannah Montana entitled “Good Golly Ms. Dolly.” While I found it a worthwhile and educational experience, I did make note of the fact that on the Hannah Montana set there was a lack of people of color both in front of and behind the camera. This was unique because on almost every other ABC show I had observed (e.g. LOST, Desperate Housewives, George Lopez, etc) this was not the case. In fact, as best as I can recall, I think I was the only person of color on the set of Hannah Montana.

What further disheartened me was that Ms. Cyrus issued what she called an “apology” on her blog. Her tone was defensive and lacked any taking of responsibility for her actions. She demonized the press, framed herself as the victim and used the excuse that she was just making “goofy faces.” What she failed to recognize was that her “goofy face” was at the expense of Asians worldwide. Whether she intended to make fun of an entire race of people or not is not an excuse for doing so. If someone isn’t aware that drunk driving is against the law, they are still responsible for crashing a car into a telephone pole. As a public figure, she needs to understand that the example she is setting for the millions of girls that look up to her is cowardly and irresponsible.

As a new father,  I am disappointed that my baby girl will have to suffer the same lack of good role models as I did growing up. Is this the best that Disney has to offer her? I hope not.  Please take the appropriate measures to remedy the situation. I would like to think we could all grow from this experience.



Michael Poryes (Executive Producer/Creator Hannah Montana)
c/o Debbee Klein
360 N. Crescent Dr.,  North Bldg.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Steven Peterman (Executive Producer/Creator Hannah Montana)
c/o It’s A Laugh Productions
201 N Occidental Blvd Bldg 6
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Rich Ross
President, Disney Channel Worldwide
3800 W Alameda Ave #2026
Burbank, CA 91505


I Am Terrified Of Google

I saw this on The auto-suggestion thing on Google came up with “I am extremely terrified of Chinese people” when you type in “I am extremely…” I thought it was pretty funny (and kind of sad). So I started doing some other searches to see what kind of suggestions I got.

For “Chinese people…”:

  • Chinese people eating dogs
  • Chinese people eating babies
  • Chinese people eating cats

For “Korean people…”:

  • Korean people never sleep
  • Korean people rude

For “Japanese people…”:

  • Japanese people are weird

For “Indian people…”:

  • Indian people smell
  • Indian people stink

To be fair, I thought I’d check out some Europeans too.

For “French people..”:

  • French people smell
  • French people stink
  • French people rude

(So I guess the French are a combination of Indians and Koreans)

For “British people…”:

  • British people bad teeth
  • British people ugly

Bale Out

Like everyone else, I thought this audio leak was hilarious and I loved the remixes. But one thing I will say in Bale’s defense is that I think the DP is a douchebag for walking into a shot. It sounds to me like a selfish power play on the DP’s part — walking into the shot renders the take useless.

The only reason someone would want to do that, is so that whatever they didn’t like about the scene wouldn’t be used. As the director of photography, that is not his call. That is why there is someone on set called the director.  By walking on while the cameras are rolling, he wasn’t thinking about anyone else’s contribution to the film e.g. the performance, the crew, etc. It’s similar to stupid tricks that shitty actors pull so that they can get more screentime. Like I said, the DP sounds like a douchebag and he probably deserved the tongue lashing.

Why I Don’t Give A Shit About Avatar

…and why I think you shouldn’t either.

Recently there’s been some Asian American outrage buzz about this movie Avatar being cast all non-Asian. Someone even posted a comment earlier asking me to bring light to it.

Well, here’s some light — I don’t actually give a shit. Why? Because it’s a trap. It’s an ancient oriental mystical thumb prison that stinks like stinky tofu.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is the issue that people are in an uproar about — Casting non-Asians in a cartoon about mystical martial artists created by non-Asians for non-Asian audiences.  Hmmmm.  Let’s explore both scenarios behind winning and losing this battle:

1. We lose the battle (which we will) and Hollywood makes another piece of crap that I wouldn’t have bothered to watch anyway.

2. We win the battle (which we won’t) and Hollywood suddenly becomes “enlightened” and sees the error of its ways, casting a full Asian cast starring Jet Li, Michelle Yeo, Chow Yun Fat, Rick Yun, Sung Kang, John Cho, Keiko Agena, the Jabberwockees and Tila Tequila as mystical martial artists. Haven’t I seen this before? Do I really want to fight to see it again?

Here is the only thing that bothers me about this subject — the film is being directed by an Asian American (albeit a South Asian American), M. Night should know better. But maybe he is doing all the aforementioned Asian American actors a favor and saving them from being in his next terrible movie.

I have a better idea — Support movies that work outside of this system like…